written by Chris Familton
Fifteen is the debut album from Melbourne guitar/drums duo Super Wild Horses. No doubt you will have already heard them on the Bonds commercial that also features Ella Stiles from Songs jumping around. Fifteen’s strength is the way it has been minimally produced with no instrumental or structural excess and avoids descending into blues robbery like so many other two piece groups. This is an assured debut that throws up some super catchy riffs and contagious twin vocal melodies.
The title track is the first moment where the magic locks in and the girls’ voices combine wonderfully. There is a touch of Blondie about the song’s bubblegum pop vibe and it sets the scene for an album that is high on fun and effective in transferring energy from the musicians to the listener.
Fifteen was recorded by Mikey Young of Eddy Current Suppression Ring fame and there is an unavoidably strong ECSR influence on the album in the stripped back drums and the choppy guitar sound. For a band that only formed last year it would have been near on impossible to avoid living in Melbourne, frequenting gigs and not soaking up the garage rock of ECSR.
Adrian and I Want You take on a decidedly Vivian Girls, 60s girl group mood and end up like a hybrid of The Breeders and The Shirelles. The clean production mix differentiates Super Wild Horses from Vivian Girls though and avoids the shoegaze wash and haze to gloriously expose those catchy harmonies.
There is some experimentation in terms of exploring the duo template on songs like Love where they employ a bass and a darker, snaking groove that succeeds on taking them to a different and swampier place. That idea expands as the album progresses, culminating with the magnificent Enigma (You Say Go) where the guitars get busier with a restless and sharper attack. The vocals become shoutier and more distorted. It is as if they have planned the tracklisting around the progression of their music from basic practice room, early songwriting attempts through to the more assured and comparatively progressive songs.
By the end of the record they are referencing Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth, traveling from the 60s to the 80s and 90s yet doing it with charm and freshness that makes the half hour record a much more varied collection of songs than a first listen will indicate. There is much to be said for brevity in this day and age of shorter attention spans and Super Wild Horses have produced a succinct debut album that isn’t weighed down by angst and bleeding hearts. Instead it is sassy, assured and another chapter in the great tradition of Melbourne guitar pop.
This review first appeared on FasterLouder